Poker fans in London almost had their fairytale ending to Event #1 (£1,500 No Limit Hold’em) as the 2008 World Series of Poker-Europe kicked off. Sadly though Jesper Hougaard got in the way and in the process became a part of WSOP-Europe history.
When the final table began, shortly after 1 pm London time, the shortest stack at the table was London’s own Fuad Serhan. With only 61,000 chips he was in a massive hole as he looked at chipleader Adam Junglen, who had 795,000. But then the cards went in the air and everything changed.
After doubling up through Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Serhan watched as Daniel Nutt went out in ninth, losing with Kc-Qc against the pocket nines of none other than Timoshenko. Ian Woodley then found his day cut short with an eighth place finish when his Ah-Qc was unable to outrun the pocket sixes of Hougaard.
That’s when Serhan turned his day around with a double-up courtesy of Junglen. Serhan moved all-in over the top of Junglen’s preflop raise. When Junglen called with pocket fives he discovered the bad news; Serhan had pocket aces. The board ran out without a five and Serhan seemed to find a comfort level. He eliminated Linda Lee in seventh, drawing out with Qd-9d after short-stacked Lee moved in with Ks-5c.
Then, as if fate was backing him in the tournament, Serhan doubled up again, this time through fellow Brit Neil Channing. Holding pocket queens Ferhan called Channing’s pre-flop all in move and won when the As-Kh of Channing missed.
Junglen then left the table with a disappointing sixth place finish. Considering how impressive Junglen was in getting to the final table, he left some observers in shock as he pushed his last 74,000 into the middle holding Ac-5c and was outmatched by the pocket fives of John Dwyer. Unable to improve, the player who held the chip lead since Day 1b was out of WSOP-Europe’s largest event ever.
Another double-up was just around the corner for Serhan, this time through Timoshenko. The never-say-die spirit of Serhan was becoming fairly obvious, especially to the reporters providing live coverage for WorldSeriesofPoker.com:
“With the action folding around to Fuad Serhan in the small blind, the Londoner swiftly announces all in and slides his entire stack across the line. Yevgeniy Timmshenko peels back the corner of his cards, shrugs, and makes the call. Timoshenko = Qs-Js Serhan = Ah-5s Board = 6d-2h-9s-5h-Ad. And Serhan doubles up yet again. He's like limescale this guy, you just can't get rid of him.”
Timoshenko then used pocket kings to eliminate Dwyer after both players got it all-in before the flop. That’s when Hougaard went to work. First up was Channing who called an all-in bet from Hougaard, who held Ah-6c, with pocket eights. After the board ran out Jc-Jd-10d-10s-5c and gave Hougaard two pair with an ace kicker, it meant that Serhan was London’s only hope.
But when three-handed play began Serhan was in familiar territory; shortstacked. With only 275,000 chips he had only 20% of what chipleader Hougaard held. Over the next few hands Timoshenko and Hougaard kept doubling through each other while Serhan managed one double-up courtesy of Hougaard.
Upon returning from dinner break Serhan quickly doubled-up again, this time thanks to Timoshenko. Not long after that Timoshenko finally found a hand worth calling the all-in of Hougaard, who had been pushing his big stack around since the dinner break ended. But pocket fours were unable to outrace the Ad-Jd of Hougaard and for the third time the Danish poker pro had eliminated a player.
While the highly partisan crowd was behind Serhan it was only a matter of time before Hougaard collected his fourth scalp of the day. Facing a 5:1 chip count deficit Serhan was unable to keep his highly improbable run at the title alive. Only five hands into heads-up play Serhan’s run was over and it was courtesy of a bad beat. Serhan raised and Hougaard moved all-in and Serhan called.
Holding Ac-Kc Serhan must have felt a tinge of delight when Hougaard flipped over Ad-Jd. But the flop brought all diamonds and Serhan was suddenly dead, guaranteed of a second place finish and Hougaard was champion.
For finishing in second place Serhan takes home the hearts of Londoners and £89,175. Hougaard, who won his first WSOP bracelet this summer in Las Vegas, became the first person to win a bracelet on each side of the Atlantic. He also takes home £144,218.